If you thought Letlive’s last album, The Blackest Beautiful, tore up the punk rock rulebook, their fourth offering, If I’m The Devil… promises even more surprises. After over a year in the studio - with their dogs in tow - Letlive are finally ready to unleash the results of their hard graft.
“It’s a massive evolution of our sound,” says Jeff. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but on the last record, there are things I feel like we could have done differently. It has beautiful moments, but I wish we’d had more time.
“To give you an idea of processes, I spent about a month and a half in the studio on The Blackest Beautiful, compared to almost a year on this one, which I’m way more hyped about.”
So what exactly is that evolution going to sound like? Jeff chuckles conspiratorially.
“I don’t wanna give away too much,” he says. “There’s not a lot of screaming; it’s more melodic. The material is sonically and vocally more digestible, but we maintain the same aggression. We just do it in a different way, rather than trying to blow your speakers up!
“We didn’t go in with the intention of making it sound a certain way; we kept experimenting. Great things can happen from simple mistakes, and that happened a lot on this album!”
Jeff hit the studio with his trusty Egnater HW45 Handwired amp and a pair of Fenders - a Baja Telecaster, to which he’s added an Fender USA neck, and a new American Elite Telecaster. He also experimented with a Behringer UCG102 Guitar Link, which he used to hook his guitar up directly to Ableton.
“I randomly found it online, and it’s so much fun,” he says. “It opened up a lot of doors - as well as cliche stuff like reverb and delay, I got to program my own sounds.”
Jeff’s friend and session guitarist Kenji Chen, who toured with Letlive last year, provided some riffs to give “a different twist” to the sound, but the band isn’t looking for a permanent replacement for guitarist Jean Nascimento, who left last January.
“Jeez, I forgot about him!” laughs Jeff. “His mind was on other things. We’re going to keep it a four-piece now as the vibe on this recording cycle was so smooth.”
At the start of the writing process, Jeff hashed out rough ideas for almost three months in a shared studio space, and used other musicians as sounding boards before taking his demos to his bandmates.
“There were probably 40 or 50 bands there, so some nights I walked downstairs and knocked on people’s doors and said, ‘Hey, you wanna come upstairs and play music?’ They were like, ‘Who the fuck are you?’” he laughs.
Writing the album was a collaborative effort - Jeff describes how he and vocalist Jason Butler, bassist Ryan Johnson and drummer Loniel Robinson all twist and shape each other’s ideas until they have a finished product they’re happy with.
“One of the best moments was when we finished the demo process. We sat back and listened and said, ‘Holy shit, this is fucking awesome,’” Jeff says. “You’ve got a banger coming your way!”
If I'm The Devil… is released on 10 June 2016 via Epitaph Records.